• Martha Helfer
  • Martha Helfer
  • Professor
  • Degree: Ph.D., Stanford University
  • Office: 15 Seminary Place, Room 4130
  • Campus: College Avenue Campus
  • Phone: 848-932-4094
  • Zoom Link for Office Hours:


Research Interests:

Literature of the Age of Goethe, Romantic aesthetic and philosophical theories, German intellectual history (18th-20th-century), questions of gender and the construction of subjectivity, philosophical approaches to literature, German Jewish Studies.


  • School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education (2019)
  • Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award (Rutgers Graduate School New Brunswick, 2007-2008)
  • Max Kade Award for Best Article in German Quarterly (1998)



Edited Volumes:

Nexus 5, Essays in German Jewish Studies (series co-founder, with William Collins Donahue), Moments of Enlightenment: In Memory of Jonathan M. Hess, guest edited by Ruth von Bernuth and Eric Downing (Camden House, 2021)

Nexus Four: Essays in German Jewish Studies, co-editor, with William Collins Donahue (Camden House, 2018).

Nexus Three: Essays in German Jewish Studies, co-editor, with William Collins Donahue (Camden House, 2017).

Nexus Two: Essays in German Jewish Studies, co-editor, with William Collins Donahue (Camden House, 2014).

Nexus One: Essays in German Jewish Studies, co-editor, with William Collins Donahue (Camden House, 2011).

Commitment and Compassion: Essays on Georg Büchner, co-editor, with Patrick Fortmann, Rodopi, 2012. (please click here for publishing information)

Rereading Romanticism, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000. 

Articles (selected):

"Fairy Tales and the Transmission of Prejudice," Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German 54.1 (2021): 74-87.

"Maurice Sendak's Dear Mili: A Contrapuntal Elegy," in Nexus 5, Moments of Enlightenment, ed. Ruth von Bernuth and Eric Downing (Camden House, 2021), 21-40.

"Arachnid Aesthetics: Gotthelf's Die schwarze Spinne," MLN 131 (2016): 662-678.

"Eckbert's Secret," Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistegeschichte 90.2 (2016): 229-48.

"'Ein heimlich Ding': The Self as Object in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff," in Goethe's Ghosts, ed. Simon Richter and Richard Block, Camden House, 2013. Pp. 276-289.

“‘Ein heimlich Ding’: Das Selbst als Objekt bei Annette von Droste-Hülshoff,” in Redigierte Tradition, ed. Claudia Liebrand, Irmtraud Hnilica, and Thomas Wortmann (Schöningh, 2010), 271-279.

“The Fairy Tale Jew,” Neue Lektüren/New Readings, ed. Gerhard Knapp and Norbert Eke, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik 67 (Rodopi: 2009), 31-42.

“Die Judenbuche” [The Jews’ Beech Tree]. The Literary Encyclopedia, 23 Aug. 2006. <http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=16918>.

“Annette von Droste-Hülshoff,” The Literary Encyclopedia, 12 July 2006, <http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5444> .

“The Male Muses of Romanticism: The Poetics of Gender in Novalis, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Eichendorff.” The German Quarterly 78.3 (2005): 299-319.

“Natural Anti-Semitism: Stifter’s Abdias,” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift 78.2 (2004): 261-86. [Reprinted in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, Volume 198 (Gale, Cengage Learning 2008): 306-320.]

“Romanticism and Gender Studies,” Camden House History of German Literature: The Literature of German Romanticism, ed. Dennis Mahoney (Camden House 2004): 229-49.

“Wilhelm Meister’s Women,” Goethe Yearbook 11 (2002): 229-54.

“Framing the Jew: Grillparzer’s Die Jüdin von Toledo.” German Quarterly 75.2 (2002): 160-80.

“‘Wer wagt es, eitlen Blutes Drang zu messen?’: Reading Blood in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s Die Judenbuche.” German Quarterly 71.3 (1998): 228-253. Best Article Award, German Quarterly 1998 (Max Kade Prize).

“Dorothea Schlegel’s Florentin: Constructing a Feminist Romantic Aesthetic.” German Quarterly 69.4 (1996): 144-160.

“‘Confessions of an Improper Man’: Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde,” Outing Goethe and His Age, ed. Alice Kuzniar (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996): 174-193.

Professional Activities:


Co-editor, Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies
Co-founder and co-organizer, German and Jewish Studies Workshop
Board of Directors, American Friends of Marbach
Editorial Board, Goethe Society of North America book series at Bucknell University Press


Program Committee, German Studies Association
Co-editor, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik
Executive Committee, MLA, Division on 18th - and early 19th -Century German Literature
Executive Committee, German Studies Association
Executive Committee, Goethe Society of North America
Editorial Board, German Studies Review
Book Review Editor, Goethe Yearbook
Secretary-Treasurer, Goethe Society of North America
Editorial Board, Athenäum


Recent Courses Taught at Rutgers:


Enchanted Worlds
History of Literary Criticism-The Romantic Period
Romanticism and Gender Studies


Fairy Tales Then and Now
Introduction to German Studies
Enchanted Worlds
Civilization and Its Discontents (Honors)